Imagine you sign up for a class. You get the syllabus, go buy the texts, if you’re a really ambitious student you start the reading and try to get ahead on the papers. And then you go to the first class and the professor comes in and says “Everyone in the class is getting an automatic A. Everyone. No exceptions. Doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. Automatic A.”
We’d probably all respond differently. Some students might just get up, fist pump, and walk out to do something fun. or sleep. Some might be skeptical, like no way he’s for real, I better stay because he’s gonna say just kidding the minute half the class walks out. Others might bemoan the fact that they already wrote the first paper and it was a homerun.
This is the kingdom of God. If you believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are saved. Saved. Done. Redeemed. 100%. A grade.
But the class goes on. What you come to discover is that maybe the class has content you actually wanted to learn or need to learn to be successful in your chosen career, or maybe it was just something you were always curious about. You actually enjoy reading the books and you feel both academically and personally challenged and motivated by them.
And then imagine that after the initial chaos of half the class leaving and people being reassured that they really will get an A no matter what, the professor gets up and gives the BEST LECTURE EVER. He is awesome, funny, knowledgeable, tells great stories, has so much love for his subject, has a wealth of unique personal experiences. Maybe he has a story about your favorite author or musician because they met and are like best friends now. Or he tells industry secrets that no one else knows. Or maybe he tells you about that time he created the moon and the stars.
This is the kingdom of God. Jesus gave us salvation – bought and paid for – you’re good to go. But when you stay, when you sit at his feet to listen, oh the ten thousand charms. He gives us food and meets our needs, and then says, Come, be my student. Follow me. Be with me. Learn from me. Love me.
I feel at times life is like a syllabus. We get this major checklist of all these tasks we need to accomplish – when you read the Old testament portion of the Bible for sure. It is overwhelming and impossible. I think ok I’m totally not getting an A – I’ll just be happy to pass the class. And you even get to the New Testament and you have the Person and work of Jesus Himself, and you think ok I just need to try harder to be like Jesus. To love like Jesus. To do good like Jesus. To be one with the Father like Jesus. I just need to focus my efforts and do better. But I already have the A.
And then imagine that the last day of class when you normally would have the final exam, and about 1/10th of the students are still there and show up. And your professor says to you, I’ve seen you all stick with it. I’ve seen you all growing in your knowledge and your love for this material. I’ve watched you continue to struggle with the lectures and learn more than you even know you learned yet. And not only am I giving you the A that I’m giving everyone, you’re also going to get an A in every class you ever take from now on with no effort whatsoever from you. And by the way I’m also refunding your tuition. In fact, I am paying the rest of your tuition. You will never owe another dime to your college education and you can take as many classes as you want.
This is the kingdom of God. We are given it all for the price of Jesus’ blood, shed for us. We are freed to learn, to enjoy, to trust, to work – yes even in our efforts we are free to not achieve but only to do – and we so often walk out on the class. We give up. We compare to others who seem to be doing less. We think we are wasting time, spinning our wheels doing something other than that which we are called to. We think we are spiritual and we think we are achieving. but everything that needed to be achieved has been already. What we do now is love.
Not to say love isn’t an achievement. Some days love is the hardest thing to do. But in our loving of another we are fulfilling the law (Rom 13) and we are not meant to love them “enough” or love them better than someone else or love them so well that our love is responsible for anything in their lives at all. We cannot achieve love. Love has been given freely. It’s already been finished – its work is done.
So how do you live well and what do you do with your syllabus? And do you sit at the professor’s feet, his student. We are loved, so incredibly loved. We could not be any more loved. And the Great Teacher says I gave you your A, now learn something.